I spent a lot of years selling consumer electronics, so I've been down
this road a time or two. I have the pieces at home to do just this,
but never used them because I sold my house and went back to renting.
The first piece you need is a cable to go from the 1/8" mini stereo
("headphone/speaker") jack on your Mac to the RCA connections you'll
be using the rest of the way. These are widely available. Below, you
will find a link to the version from Monster Cable, on the Radio Shack
website (I'm assuming you are in the US, and therefore have easy
access to Radio Shack).
Monster Cable, of course, is a high-end audiophile product. They also
offer a lightweight house brand version of the cable, shown at this
A wall plate with RCA connectors is available at this link:
This particular plate has three connectors on it, allowing for video
use as well as audio use. While that is no part of your current
project, it's not a bad notion for future use.
Bear in mind that your installers should be able to source wall plates
through their own suppliers, so you may want to discuss this with
As for the wire running through your walls, you have a couple of
choices. Speaker wire will work, though for continuous runs of over
20-25 ft you will want to use a heavy gauge of wire; I'd say nothing
less than 14ga. with 12ga. being preferable. This is a bit on the
pricy side, but it reduces signal loss. Another option would be to
use coaxial (ie shielded) cable, similar to your television cable in
design. This is the style used in higher-end audio cables.
Here, budget will be the deciding factor; you'll have to settle in
your mind how much you're willing to pay for this installation and
then price out your wiring options accordingly with the installers.
There is no particular reason why you could not use wall plates with
binding posts ("banana plugs") instead, since the end result is the
same. However, it would require adding RCA=>banana plug adaptors to
the y-cable coming from your computer and again, at the other end,
when you connect back to your stereo. Since each connection will
degrade your signal to a degree, this is undesirable in the overall
scheme of things.
As you've undoubtedly guessed, this answer was constructed from
personal knowledge. I chose Radio Shack's website as the place to
source these items simply because of their ubiquity; if you need
something in a hurry there's not much point supplying your with online
ordering options. The Shack, on the other hand, is everywhere, and
these products should be in stock (the Monster Cable might be special
order for smaller stores, so phone first).
I should add that your username gave me a welcome chuckle to start my
day (I'm a cook by trade). Thanks for that!
I'm off to work now for the day, but if you should require any further
information please let me know by way of the "request clarification"
button, and I'll amplify on this (pardon the pun) as needed.
Clarification of Answer by
24 Jan 2005 16:54 PST
Re: "coax" cable. Coaxial cable is a two-conductor cable, just as
speaker wire is. The difference is that, instead of running parallel
to each other, they share a common axis (hence the name). To put it
more simply, instead of being side by side, one wire runs inside the
other. Your centre wire, whether single-strand or braided, runs
through a layer of insulation. This is wrapped with a layer of
braided wire which forms a sheath. That sheath not only provides your
second connection, it also shields the wire in the middle. That
shielding is why coaxial cable is used for cable television; it
prevents the signal from being corrupted by interference.
Audio cables are typically made from a lightweight coax cable; while
high-end cables like Monster Cable are made from a heavier coax (the
centre wire is of heavier gauge, just as with speaker wire), and will
typically be made of high-purity copper with better-than-average
To summarize: heavy-gauge speaker wire reduces your signal loss over
distance. Coax, in a heavy gauge/high quality cable, does the same
but also shields your signal from interference. Personally, since you
are just going through a couple of walls, I think that the speaker
wire should be just fine (though if you live near a radio station
you'll regret it!). If in future you should be pre-wiring a whole
house, you might want to go the extra mile and have coax put in.
Thanks for the gaudy pile o' stars...